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Preparing for coming storms: Have an action plan ready to put into place

Hurricane season is on its way for Shelter Island and the East End, scheduled for June 1 to Nov. 30.

And, as the Environmental Defense Fund has stated: “If it seems as though the most intense hurricanes happen more often than they used to, you’re right: The proportion of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that are Category 3 or above has doubled since 1980.”

A Category 3 storm is defined as one that has winds of 100 to 130 mph and storm surges above normal tides by 9 to 12 feet.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters say that 2024 will be an “above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.”

Last week NOAA said that there could be 25 tropical storms, and seven major hurricanes this summer into autumn — with the most occurring in August and later — a record prediction by the agency.

“This season is looking to be an extraordinary one,” NOAA administrator Richard Spinrad said at a press conference last week.

Hurricanes that strike will be more intense than in past years, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, due to “over 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the world’s oceans. That means warmer waters, rising seas, higher wind speeds and more moisture in the atmosphere. These shifts are making hurricanes stronger, wetter and more likely to intensify rapidly, unleashing record-breaking downpours …”

Now is the time to plan, remembering the old adage that having no plan is a plan to fail. Suffolk County Executive Edward P. Romaine released a statement last week: “Suffolk County is more vulnerable … than ever to coastal storms, and preparedness is of the utmost importance. We urge our residents to start planning now.”

NOAA has a strategic check list for residents to mark for the coming hurricane season. Part of the preparations Islanders should make are:

• Develop an evacuation plan.

• Assemble disaster supplies: food, water, batteries, charger, radio, cash.

• Get an insurance checkup and document your possessions.

• Create a communication plan with a hand-written list of contacts.

• Strengthen your home: trim trees, install storm shutters, seal outside wall openings.

For more details, visit www.noaa.gov and www.ready.gov.

Those who haven’t yet registered with the Shelter Island Police Department for the “Code Red” emergency notifications should do so and list all numbers, including land lines and cell phones that can serve as backups if wires go down servicing land lines. Code Red registration is available on the Police Department’s website at https://www.shelterislandtown.gov/185/Police-Department & https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF15B156BF1C.

The town has two emergency shelters, one at the Senior Center in the Medical Building that has its own generator and can accommodate those in need. In the event of a major storm, the school would be opened and, it too, has a generator, Police Chief Jim Read said. It would be staffed by both town and school personnel.

Town Hall, the Police Station and Justice Court all have generators. Police, Emergency Medical Services staff and the Shelter Island Fire Department are prepared to coordinate needs with the Fire Department, and all departments will work in conjunction with North and South ferries to handle evacuations if necessary.